Great War recollections

They drilled in civvies using sticks or pikes for rifles

It all started a bit like Dad’s Army


   Happier Times:  Cyril (left) and Fred as teenagers                                                           Raw recruit: Cyril Freeston is ready for action

Two Sheffield brothers, one Naomi Waddington’s grandfather and the other her great uncle, enlisted together into the Territorial Army on 5 September 1914. Fred Freeston was aged 22 and Cyril was 18. The brothers had consecutive registration numbers (200612 and 200613).  

An extract from family autobiographical notes compiled by Charles Rodney Freeston, one of Cyril’s children, describes the brothers’ early days in the army.

'Their initial training took place partly at Bramall Lane football ground, and also at Hyde Park which stood high above Duke Street.  They drilled in civilian clothes using sticks or pikes for rifles  Eventually they were fitted out in uniforms at the Drill Hall in Edmund Road.  

'On 13 April 1915 they were both in France serving in the 1st/4th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.

'Having arrived at the front in early April 1915 after seven months of preparation and training Cyril was soon in trouble. Whether it was shot or shell we know not for he suffered a leg wound and was shipped back home to Clipstone Camp, Nottinghamshire for convalescence.  

'How long he stayed there is not known for certain, we know that groups of visitors were welcomed at the camp, some form of therapy I believe.   During this recovery period it follows that one of these visitors was Isabella Kate Rachel Coldwell who I believe stayed at nearby Birchover,  (I/we know of no other connection with Birchover).    After being discharged  (probably to barracks in Sheffield) Cyril L Cpl Freeston and Isabella KR Coldwell were married at Burngreave Congregational Church on 29 December 1917.

'On 19 February 1918 Cyril returned to France. Not for long. He suffered a severe wound to his right forearm on 3 April 1918 and returned to Clipstone Camp, staying there until being classed as disabled and discharged.  His discharge date was 25 July 1918 after serving 3 years and 344 days service with the York and Lancaster Regiment.  

'Corporal Fred Freeston died on 9 October 1917, and  is buried in Plot 16, Row A, Grave 13 in Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele (now Passendale), Belgium.   

'Corporal Cyril Freeston, having lost his 25 year old brother in The Great War,  then sadly lost one of his sons,  Private John Graves Freeston , 4348361, The West Yorkshire Regiment and No 3 Commando, who died on 14 July 1943 aged 21, and is buried in Plot 2, Row F, Grave 2 in Catania War Cemetery, Sicily, Italy.  

Naomi and David Waddington have lived in Bishop Monkton for the past 20 years. They have two children, Hannah and Samuel.  

David has visited Fred Freeston’s grave at Tyne Cot and Naomi hopes to visit it in the near future.


                               A later picture of Fred Freeston 
                                       Fred Freeston's grave

                                                                     Remembered with pride

TOMORROW: We end our series about individuals with pieces about  Chris Procter's great uncle and Richard Field's father.